A federal judge today completed a ruling that the Department of Labor cannot grant overtime and wage protections to home care workers by redefining the term “companionship services,” which many home care workers provide.
The ruling concludes a temporary stay granted following a court decision on December 22 to the same effect, prompting both celebration and outcry among parties involved in various home care capacities.
Under the decision, ruled by Washington D.C. District Court Judge Richard Leon, the Department of Labor will not be allowed to implement a long-awaited rule that would offer wage and overtime protections to companionship workers. In his decision, the judge stated that the change must be implemented through the legislative process with the approval of Congress, rather than the regulatory process, as it has proceeded to date.
The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), among those in support of the case against The Department of Labor’s Administrator of Wage and Hour Division David Weil, called the new ruling a victory in its statements following the decision.
“This decision is a huge victory for patients and their families who will be able to continue receiving home care services without interruption,” said Denise Schrader, chairman of the NAHC board, in a statement. “The decision is a huge victory for caregivers who will continue to be protected instead of being forced to work only part time. The decision is likewise a huge victory for the agencies that serve patients and employ caregivers, and who will see continuity in a rule that has been in effect for 40 plus years and had recently been sustained by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
The organization has long argued the offering the new protections to industry workers would force home care agencies out of business and would effectively deny care to those who need it.
Labor rights organizations including the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute cried out against the ruling stating it will deny workers the right to basic protections offered to employees across other industries.
“We are deeply disturbed by Judge Leon’s decision,” said Jodi M. Sturgeon, president of PHI, in a statement. “After three full years, the regulatory process has run its course, and America’s 2 million home care workers should not have to wait any longer for fair pay.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker